Category Archives: Featured

Ding & Dent Podcast Ep 6 – Pete Ruth, Games As Art, And A Review Of The Grizzled



In episode 6 Raf and Charlie talk the new direction of Ding and Dent and about the future. Pete Ruth, writer from The Review Corner, joins the podcast as a special guest. Finally, Raf and Charlie discuss board games as art and review 2015’s The Grizzled.

Games Discussed: The Grizzled, Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition Starter, Firestorm Armada, T.I.M.E Stories







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Warfighter Wave 2 – A Written Review



Warfighter wave two kicked off with the fantastic Foot Locker expansion that I’ve endorsed.  The rest of wave two is all about additional cards and expanding of gameplay.  More weapons, missions, and targets is always a great thing.  Let’s dive right in and take a look at what each of these three magazine-sized expansions brings to the table.

Expansion five kicks things off with a claymore sized bang.  It appears somewhat bland at first, offering additional copies of equipment we’ve already seen to help us fill out larger squads, but don’t overlook the dozens of new equipment options.  One of my favorite options is the new Ghillie Suit which lets you blend into the environment and remain hidden, avoiding hostile fire.  We also have new armor options with the IOTV vest and the Mich Helmet, bolstering protection and adding new tactical facets.

I’m also a huge fan of the first taste of the new SITREP cards.  These are effects you may select when building your team that alter the rules of the mission.  Double Time for instance allows you to move the objective one location closer but costs you a heavy seven resource points.  These SITREP cards are sprinkled throughout the other expansions and included in the Footlocker.  They’re a fantastic modification that doesn’t increase the overhead or difficulty a great deal but allows you to give a subtle nudge that does modify the feel enough to spice variety.

I’d also be remiss if I didn’t mention the new Mission and Objective set that comes in this small box.  The most notable is the “Intercept Drug Shipment” jungle Objective that lets you pretend like you’re hunting Pablo Escobar while blasting 80’s music in the background.  The Middle Eastern “Kill The VIP” Objective is also very interesting as it requires you kill a special target but you must do so from a range of two, requiring a sniper be brought along.  One simple rule and we have an entirely new narrative structure and finale baked into this evocative ruleset.

Expansion six is all about the United Kingdom.  We have 60 cards themed primarily around this new set of protagonists, which buff up our free world forces immensely.  As you’d expect there’s troops of all three types found in the system – Squad, NPC, and standard.  These new troop options form almost half of the included content.

One huge benefit of the U.K. not appearing until wave two is that these soldiers can take advantage of a more refined system.  The Warfighter core is an exceptional product but some growing needed to occur as the system matured.  One particular minor issue previously was that some of the more costly soldiers weren’t worth the cost to field.  Wave two and the Footlocker have made strides in improving this and you can see that awareness and more sophisticated touch applied to these overseas warriors.




Along with these British warfighters comes an all new selection of gear.  We have unit specific weaponry including the Enfield bullpup assault rifle, the L7A2 MG, and the mighty MBT LAW.  We’re also gifted utility gear that may be utilized by all of your existing troops as well.  This includes the hilarious Sunglasses that allow you to add one movement but can only be equipped if you have purchased three skill cards.

This expansion all gives some appreciated love to shotguns, featuring a side saddle free reload item, a shotgun forward grip, and the fantastic Shot and Awe skill that inflicts multiple kills on a target.  These will be finding their way into my American shotgun wielders immediately.

 The final element of note is the inclusion of additional mission variety through a new SITREP card, as well as both a Middle East and Jungle mission/objective set.  These fill out options and help to keep setups from becoming stale.  The best of the bunch here is the EVAC Truck objective which is an escape mission where the mission card continually moves closer.  This represents the soldiers making their way out of hell in a vehicle as enemies pursue.  A simple twist and my narrative lightbulb is on fire.

Expansion number seven is all about introducing Russian protagonists.  This functions very similarly to the U.K. expansion in that we’re given a bevy of troops along with supporting gear.  I have to admit that it is very entertaining utilizing a team of specialists wielding AK-47’s and an RPK.  Even the venerable RPG makes an appearance, letting you dish some pain back on the enemy.

I also really dig the Objective, Mission, and new Location cards in this little pack.  The two new locations feature a Jungle and Middle Eastern weapon cache, allowing you to supply mid-mission.  Coming across an insurgent cache of arms and stocking up on grenades and new toys in the middle of a brawl is just plain fun.  Perhaps my favorite Objective is also found in this set as you have to reinforce an outpost that’s under attack.  This requires you head to the objective and then keep it clear for three turns, which can be daunting if you get into a hairy situation.

From my perspective, the best aspect of this expansion is the ability to re-enact the Soviet-Afghani conflict from the 80’s.  Historical perspective offers more impactful gameplay and context that can help color play, for better or for worse.  I find this particularly fascinating and have played whole missions selecting appropriate gear for that time period.

The final extension is the most interesting as it adds an entirely new front of enemies to the game.  The Eastern European adds a robust set of Missions, Objectives, Enemies, and Events.  Like the other Wave two additions, nothing here is done half-way and it feels like a full offering that really alters the feel and atmosphere.

Besides allowing you to partake in some interesting what if scenarios, we’re given some really difficult challenges to overcome.  You can go toe-to-toe with a BMP, HIND, or even a T-72.  Yes, when you run into a T-72 with a defeat cover roll of 11(!) you’ll be crying and hitting the dirt.  We’re also nailed with Security Detachments, RPG teams, Infiltrators, and Patrols.  The soldiers tend to be better equipped and more deadly than their Middle Eastern counterparts.




The locations are the best part of this diverse expansion as we see many new and interesting effects.  We have a Roadblock that adds its location number (position) to its hostile value, Crowded Streets that restrict explosive and automatic fire, and Busy Highways that have large reinforcement values.  It all ties into that dense narrative the game supplies and really paints an altogether distinct vision than those jungle missions taking down Narcos.

Wave two of Warfighter is successful because of the attention to detail.  Everything is intelligently tied to the strong base mechanisms and nothing is forced or jammed into the design.  If someone wanted a limited recommendation or prioritization of Wave two, I’d definitely suggest the Eastern European Adversaries first.  They add a third vector to your mission environments and will take your stories to new places.  The U.K. and Russian forces are great inclusions but likely more of a personal preference if you desire variety or have an affinity for these countries or their equipment.  Regardless of your choice, you can’t really go wrong as DVG again have hit the ground running and produced a solid line of products.

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Waste Knights – A Written Review



If Waste Knights is any indication for the future, then Polish-trash is a term you need to familiarize yourself with. If you’re anything like me, then your knowledge of Poland’s board game scene extends just to the edge of Portal Games and no farther.  The rest is a vast dark unknown that occupies my thoughts about as often as Caylus or Hansa Teutonica.  That’s going to change this instant as Polish publisher Badger’s Nest is here to stay.

Waste Knights is a brutal yet colorful post-apocalyptic vision that’s two parts Max Rockatansky one part Fallout by Bethesda software. The two are shaken together and splashed across a tabletop jammed packed with hexes, tokens, and cards.  The production is visually sincere and pleasant as hell on the eyes.  Everything from the small sized item cards to the hex illustrations and the character’s portraits align with this razor edge vision of the world gone sideways, yet it manages to stay relatively bright and energetic.  It’s much more George Miller than Cormac McCarthy.

Snagging imports from small publishers is sometimes akin to playing Russian Roulette – you never know quite how the overall quality will meld and if it will stand up to the big players in the industry. Waste Knights comes across as something which could have been produced by the mighty Fantasy Flight Games.  The cardboard is thick and well loved, the attention to detail is exceptional, and everything just functions superbly.  The only blemishes on this peach come in the form of the occasional translation issue.  You will notice spread throughout the flavor text an uncommon flub or awkward sentence structure but it’s nothing terrible and easy to overlook.  It certainly doesn’t come across as amateur and only highlights the fact this was not written by a native speaker.

Despite the small translation oddities the rulebook flows extremely well. It’s a large and comprehensive guide that belies the relatively simple nature of the gameplay.  The weight is somewhere in the Arkham/Eldritch Horror realm in both component saturation and rules complication.  It’s a game that experienced players will easily be able to dive in to and be off and running within a couple of turns.




The structure of play is really quite straightforward in that you travel across the wasteland, experience encounters, and take advantage of location benefits. You’re generally trying to fulfill tasks (small missions) for the short term while keeping the overarching scenario objective in your peripheral vision.  What makes Waste Knights infectious like a bout of the rad plague, is the small inflections of subsystems comprising each of the major elements.  In this way it reminds me a bit of Christophe Boelinger and I see a couple of nods in the same direction as Earth Reborn – one of the most brilliant Post-Apocalyptic designs in existence.

The first subsystem to take note of is readily apparent when you first get your player-mat, randomly selected from a huge number of options. You’ll immediately take notice of the brilliant color-coded equipment system.  You have inventory slots as weapons take up hands, chest, or pocket positions and have a power relative to a tiered item structure.  Characters are differentiated by several stats used in checks throughout the game, a special ability, and starting equipment printed directly onto the sheet.  You can cover this starting equipment up as you tear a Flamethrower from a dead mutant’s body or fuse a cybernetic implant into your skin.  There’s a constant sense of opening a new toy via gear earned as rewards and gear acquired through a shopping spree.

The equipment fuels the top-notch combat system that most closely resembles FFG’s recent Forbidden Stars. Here players each receive an identical deck full of action cards including options such as Attack, Defend, Advance/Retreat, and Prepare.  You can execute a simple attack to inflict pain with your weaponry or turtle up to keep your fragile life in the balance.  All tests in this game are dice pools against set target numbers, in combat that target number is determined by range.




The range between combatants is abstracted and factors into the attack target number as well as the initiative based on weaponry. At close range you can only use short distance and melee weaponry as you’d expect.  There’s an additional layer of strategy in that you can eliminate your opponent from the fight or you can hang on to the end and win via momentum – much like Forbidden Star’s morale system.  It just works as your decisions are crucial and often difficult.

There’s a very satisfying sense of realism and narrative paired with just the right amount of abstraction due to the combination of range, damage, and momentum. As you play an Advance card to charge at your opponent so you can use your sawed-off, you get a real sense of colorful drama while he’s throwing slugs your way with his assault rifle.  The momentum reinforces the percussive weight of your decisions relative to skirmish tactics in the sense that advancing, inflicting damage, and suppression are all rolled into this elegant and tasty battle in a compact manner.

Likewise, hauling across monster infested country is handled with flair. You travel by spending fuel to move with one of several vehicle options and plot the path you intend to take across the map.  One of the opposing players takes the role of the Wastelander (which rotates with each player) and draws hazard cards that are comprised of mostly wicked events and perilous foes.  They will choose one such card to play during your movement, interrupting the action to force a check or an encounter.

The farther you move on your turn the more cards they draw and options they have. Additionally certain hexes may allow the Wastelander to draw more cards, suggesting you take care in plotting your trip.  This palpable sense of danger infuses the push your luck element of stretching your vehicle to the limit and risking a jaunt through broken ground.




You can run through rubble and damage your car, come across vast clouds of locusts, and be assaulted by human/centipede centaurs out to gut you. This player enforced advocacy for the harsh reality of the environment works superbly as opposed to a simple AI system.  The decisions are more nuanced and more importantly, vindictive.  Instead of having your car trash a tire and force a mechanical check, Steve will hit your steady Gearhead with an Electrical Storm testing his unfortunately low Survival stat.  It keeps you on your toes and braced to be smacked around like a baby seal.

Throughout this wonderful color and satisfying gear manipulation, you’re strategically running from point to point across the board to accomplish diverse tasks such as muling equipment or bagging mutant lizard pelts to decorate a surly fella’s bar. This is relatively standard adventure game stuff, enhanced by strong flavor and that fantastic encounter system.

The greater context is provided via the Mission Book, a full color document offering several interesting scenarios. You can compete to simply have the highest fame, gained throughout the game by overcoming foes and accomplishing tasks, or seek to find the malicious Bloody Mary and bring her back to the big boss to be reckoned with.  The options on hand are strongly diverse and the promise for more in the future is enticing.  The culminating scenario, Cult of the Manifold, has you hopping to infested cities and clearing the bile for the greater good; imaginative and always interesting.

Like the upper echelon of Ameritrash adventure games, Waste Knights is not defined entirely by its mechanisms or lengthy playtime. Long after the game ends you’ll be sharing a beer and reminiscing on Russel Crown (you read that correctly) running drugs for the overseer and being rewarded with a flamethrower that he affixed with a bayonet to take down that massive AI tank roaming the dead lands.  If that doesn’t perk up your interest, then you don’t have a pulse.

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The Game Pit: Episode 55 – Picking Over the Bones

Game Pit Logo - December 2013 (Y&G Dice)
Now back to our regular Picking Over the Bones format after the excitement of Essen, we have tweaked the way we do the reviews.
In this episode we did not provide a straight up rules explanation but instead looked to incorporate the rules into the general discussion.
Please let us have your feedback on our new way of doing things.
In this episode, Sean and Ronan take a look at The Big Book of Madness, The Voyages of Marco Polo, Porta Nigra and Res Publica: 2230 AD.
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Cthulhu Wars – A Written Review



This is the type of game that you walk by and can’t avert your eyes. Your spouse gives you a shot to the ribs and drags you along, chastising you for staring. It’s full of temptation, allure, and tactile vim. It’s not only an enormous statue garden to the Elder gods, but a collection of immortal icons of Ameritrash. This is Cthulhu Wars.

Sandy Petersen is one of the most experienced game designers in the industry. He’s worked on the original Doom PC game, Quake, the Call of Cthulhu RPG, and many others. Cthulhu Wars was his last hurrah in dedicating his effort to something he loved, and it’s blossomed into a massive non-Euclidean rose.

You could be half-blind and fumbling in the dark for your glasses but you still wouldn’t miss these miniatures. This deluxe game is crammed full of the largest gaming pieces you will ever find, sturdy plastic and well-detailed. When you embody the Old Ones and move Hastur across the board the experience is more akin to playing on one of those life-sized chess sets in the park than any typical board game.

What’s really remarkable is that the [not exactly] miniatures here actually enhance the game play. When you meet the conditions to summon almighty Cthulhu and you pick up that huge beast with two hands, slamming him into the middle of the Pacific – nothing, absolutely nothing in gaming is like that. Sandy Petersen likened it to a kid playing with large plastic dinosaurs which is absolutely genius. The toy factor is off the hook and having this dark being as an extension of your hand is just ridiculously empowering.

That tactile emotional connection of nostalgia and youth is extremely important in tying the awe and power of these horrific monstrosities into the gameplay. It reinforces the mechanics and dovetails with the experience to elevate it beyond the norm into something special.




This works so magnificently because the gameplay itself is just as satisfying as those avatars of terror. This is a lean, heavily refined “dudes on a map” style game. The backbone is the power system which can be likened to the Eric Lang classic Chaos in the Old World. Each player possesses a Power Point track that they utilizes to perform a single action on their turn. Play rotates until players have expended all of their power to take actions. This Power is gained by amassing Cultists on the board and controlling gates that double as positions to summon monsters into the world.

What really sings in this design is the strong degree of asymmetry. Each player controls a different faction in H.P. Lovecraft’s mythos bearing distinct flavor and entirely different capabilities. The horrors you are able to summon to perform your bidding are completely unique for each participant – Cthulhu relying on Starspawn and Shoggoths while Shub-Niggurath leans on Mi-Go and Dark Young. Everything clicks and feels extremely well integrated, thought and care obvious at each opportunity.

This title is all about speed, throwing the players into the fun immediately. Nothing is wasted and everything is amped to 11 as the sense of dynamism is top-notch. This is Ameritrash to the core with no Euro vestiges. It’s all about controlling defiled ground and seizing it from your opponents. This is much more Nexus Ops than Cyclades or the shiny new Blood Rage.

You’re summoning abominations, gaining power, and attacking other players across an illustrated map of Earth – but what’s the point? The idea here is to manifest doom on the planet and crush the inhabitants, including your opponents and their awful beings from another dimension. Gates are the key as you will create them to boost power as well as accrue Doom, Cthulhu Wars’ equivalent of Victory Points.




A nuance in the Doom system arrives with the clever use of Elder signs. These little tokens are drawn from a bag when players perform a Ritual of Annihilation before the action round, committing to an unholy service and wrecking the local populace. This drains precious power giving you less agency during the approaching activity for the turn, but it doubles the Doom you accrue from gates and provides these significant Elder signs.

The Elder signs themselves are drawn from a bag and subsequently kept face-down. They range from 1-3 and provide a clever mechanism for injecting mystery into who is precisely winning. They’re very reminiscent of Eclipse’s VP chips you draw after combat, injecting dramatic mystery into the point calculation of victory. I absolutely dig this feature in both games and don’t mind the associated randomness.

The main way you’re going to gut your foes and leave a bloody pile of corpses is via the fantastic spellbook system. While each faction has a distinct cast of units and a single inherent special ability, the bulk of asymmetry is gained as play progresses. Each player has a set of six spellbooks which detail completely unique abilities. To unlock these powers a player needs to accomplish different tasks listed on his player mat which function very much like video game achievements. Instead of a little “ding” and congratulatory message popping up, you’re gifted actually useful things like the ability to remotely blow up enemy cultists or dictate where your foes flee.  Brilliant.

The subtle influence of this system is that players are directly incentivized to perform actions and interact with gameplay in a thematic sense appropriate to their Elder god. Shub-Niggurath spreads out and utilizes his fertility cult, the King in Yellow delivers his wicked play by desecrating areas of the globe, and Cthulhu devours the weak and owns the ocean. Thematic and evocative, these mechanisms also drive interesting maneuvers from a gameplay perspective. It helps fuel interaction and pushes the design to its maximum potential.

Once you accomplish these achievements and unleash your special abilities, the feel of immense power is real. Nearly every acquisition comes across as game breaking and significant. This fuels that over-the-top ridiculous sense of scale the miniatures espouse and really ties the theme into your motions as a player. It’s a reciprocal reward system of destruction and fueled intensity.

The 100 pound tentacle-faced elephant in the room is the $200 MSRP price tag.  If the wife wasn’t giving you a hip-check before she is now.  The fact is you can’t head to game seven of the World Series, sit behind the plate, and stuff caviar into the right side of your mouth as you complain about the price out the left.  This is a high-end game that knows what it’s selling, and the Petersen’s are selling with confidence.

Cthulhu Wars is much smarter than it has any right to be. For a 90 minute old-school Ameritrash game it’s clean and highly developed. There’s no fat and the game requires very little overhead. It has no memory as there’s no tracking of health or fiddling with mounds of chits. You push across the board and conquer, feeling like a god at each turn. Playing games is all about fun, and in its twisted dark world Cthulhu Wars is the life of the party.

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